- Lingua Franca with Flora
In spite of all who would renounce petals the petals come: chèlbè some, shy some, no dirt will hold them back. Planted in dirt, and drawing from dirt, they explode hot-pink, burst red. Their dusty outfits blown clean in the trade winds that sweep down like a Moorish lover; their dusty outfits washed clean, dampened and darkened by Caribbean Sea rain: these creeping bougainvillea.
And hibiscus flower, still delicate, still fleshy, returning constantly to the Haitian day he was stripped like a god of his name: Rose de Chine. To the day he was brought low to blacken shoes, made to show his black blood in the shine on the boots of American Marines, 1915. He, choublak, who now spills his dark tears for tea.
But who can deny the sly chevalier de nuit? Night’s knight, who blooms only at night, unbolting his tiny white flower, perfumed, redolent. Intoxicant known to those who travel the night, and the night into day down the worn trails to town, down the hills for something, for life; known to those who cut deals with ominous lords, with the devil himself. All pinned by his lance. [End Page 551]
It is he Dieula picks to sweeten her dress as she will emerge a goddess; in a rinsed azure shift, after birdbath in alley with enamel tin cup and tan bucket. She will go boldly to her love who will whisper to her in a schoolboy French learned before he quit school; before life swallowed him—and to seal their accord (for there is a deal being made), in the gravity of Creole, wi cheri, wi—tout sa’m genyen se pou ou, yes darling, yes—all I have is yours. [End Page 552]
Danielle Legros Georges is author of Maroon, a book of poems. An associate professor at Lesley University, her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in such publications as Agni, The American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The Christian Science Monitor, and Encarta Africana.
* chèlbè: Haitian Creole for showy
* of American Marines, 1915: a reference to the 1915–1934 United States occupation of Haiti